The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Story of the Shepherd

Words: Gongora, A Spanish Carol, trans. Ven. Archdeacon Churton

Music: Joseph Barnby

Source: Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Second Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1871), Carol #36

1. It was the very noon of night: The stars above the fold,
More sure than clock of chiming bell, the hour of midnight told:
When from the heavens there came a voice, and forms were seen to shine,
Still bright’ning as the music rose with light and love divine.
With love divine the song began; there shone a light serene:
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen?
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen?

2. O ne'er could nightingale at dawn salute the rising day
With sweetness like that bird of song in his immortal lay:
O ne'er were wood-notes heard at eve by banks with poplar shade
So thrilling as the concert sweet by heavenly harpings made;
For love divine was in each chord, and fill'd each pause between:
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen ?

3. I roused me at the piercing strain, but shrunk as from the ray
Of summer lightning; all around so bright the splendour lay.
For oh, it mastered sight and sense, to see that glory shine,
To hear that minstrel in the clouds, who sang of Love Divine,
To see that form with birdlike wings, of more than mortal mien:
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen ?

4. When once the rapturous trance was past, that so my sense could bind,
I left my sheep to Him whose care breathed in the western wind;
I left them, for instead of snow, I trod on blade and flower,
And ice dissolved in starry rays at morning's gracious hour,
Revealing where on earth the steps of Love Divine had been;
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen ?

5. I hasted to a low-roofed shed, for so the Angel bade;
And bowed before the lowly rack where Love Divine was Iaid:
A newborn Babe, like tender Lamb, with Lion's strength there smiled;
For Lion's strength, immortal might, was in that new-born Child;
That Love Divine in childlike form had God for ever been:
O, who hath heard what I have heard, or seen what I have seen ?

Sheet Music from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1871)

Story_Shepherd_36a.gif (507818 bytes)

Story_Shepherd_36b.gif (476503 bytes)

Sheet Music from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #706
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

The_Story_Of_The_Shepherd_706.gif (439668 bytes)

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.


Related Hymns and Carols